Quilts show the progress in fight against HIV

CAPE TOWN, June 23 – On the eve of the International AIDS Conference in Durban (July 18–22), an exhibition of 17 quilts made by people affected by HIV told the story of what has been achieved since the last time the conference was held in South Africa in the year 2000.

TB/HIV Care Association unveiled quilts made as part of the larger international HIV Quilt Project, which is co-ordinated nationally by the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), at an event at Haas Collective on Buitenkant Street on Thursday. The 2m by 2m quilts tell the stories of the people who made them – people involved in the organisation’s programmes, including people who inject drugs, sex workers and prison inmates, as well as those dedicated to supporting them.

All of the quilts will be submitted to the international HIV Quilt Project to be sewn on to the main quilt of more than 100,000 quilts from all over the world.

TB/HIV Care was only one of several organisations SANAC approached to create quilts to highlight the progress made in the response to HIV since 2000. At that time, antiretroviral treatment was not yet widely available in the country, stigma and discrimination were widespread and the outlook was bleak.

These quilts tell a very different story.

South Africa now has the largest antiretroviral treatment programme in the world, a mother-to-child-transmission rate of less than 2 percent and has witnessed an increase of more than 10 years in life expectancy over the past decade.

Zolani Barnes, ACSM Manager for TB/HIV Care, “Quilts have long been used as a medium for storytelling and these visual stories provide valuable insight into the lives behind the statistics.”

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